Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Mexico Coronavirus Cases Spike, Suggesting an Underreported Outbreak. June 3, 2020

Mexico Coronavirus Cases Spike, Suggesting an Underreported Outbreak

On Tuesday Carissa Etienne, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Americas warned that the coronavirus pandemic in the Western Hemisphere was only likely to get worse, as the effects of economic inequality exacerbate a public health crisis.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States and Brazil—which together account for over one-third of cases worldwide—has grabbed headlines, but it’s in Mexico where the pandemic could find its next epicenter.

On Tuesday, Mexico’s health ministry reported 3,891 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily number since the outbreak began. A senior health official has sought to play down the increase. “The coronavirus epidemic is at its maximum level of intensity,” Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s assistant health secretary and a leader in the government response, said on Tuesday. At over 10,000, the number of recorded deaths from coronavirus in Mexico is the third-highest in the Americas, behind United States and Brazil.

No testing, no data. But what should be troubling for Mexico is the lack of necessary data to track the progress of the virus—it has one of the lowest testing rates in all of Latin America.

“The Mexican government, unlike many and perhaps most governments, has declared that its epidemiological policy has no intention of counting each and every case,” López-Gatell, told the Associated Press. “We are not interested in it, because it is useless, costly and not feasible to test everybody in the country.” Mexico has instead focused on increasing the number of hospital beds available to treat patients when they fall ill.

Mourning in Mexico. In Foreign Policy, Maya Averbuch reported from the cemeteries and crematoriums of Mexico City and spoke with the grieving families who are still not being told whether their loved ones died of the coronavirus. “As a dispute has unfolded over Mexico’s management of the crisis, families are asking not for answers about how many overall deaths there might be, but for closure in their specific cases,” she writes.

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